The Washington Redskins turned a lot of heads last Saturday when they used a fourth round pick on quarterback Kirk Cousins, having already traded up to the second overall pick to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. ESPN jumped all over this, saying the Redskins replaced one quarterback controversy with another. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Everyone in the Redskins organisation knows that Griffin is the guy. Mike Shanahan has come out and said as much. He's told the world that Cousins is coming in to compete as a back up. While that dispels the thought that Cousins could win the job from Griffin, it leads to a different question; why are you drafting a guy you know is only going to be a back up with a fourth round pick?
This is the more valid question. For a team like the Redskins who have been mediocre for quite some time now, to spend a fourth round pick that, in an ideal world, never plays a snap is questionable. It's even more surprising when you look at the haul of picks the Redskins gave up to get Griffin. It's easy to see why people think the Redskins could have used that pick on someone who could challenge for some playing time. After all, a team that is as depleted as the Redskins need all the help they can get.
However, I'm fully behind the selection of Kirk Cousins (and I know that will be seen as bias) and here's why. First off, Mike Shanahan said that they had a second round grade on Cousins, as did a lot of draft experts. To get a second round talent in the fourth round was great value. Is there anyone out there that would take a fourth round talent over a second round talent, regardless of position?
The second reason I'm behind this move is what I like to call, the Rex Grossman factor. With a mobile quarterback like Griffin as the starter, there's always a chance he can get hurt while running. Should the unthinkable happen for the Redskins, Grossman is currently the guy who would step in. To remind anyone who is unfamiliar with Rex Grossman (or to pull those repressed memories back up, my apologies), Grossman is an interception machine. He was joint third in the NFL last year for most interceptions with 20, but he only played in 13 games. He threw an interception in every game he played bar the opener against the Giants. In Cousins, they have a guy that could potentially beat out Grossman for the back up job, and be ready to step in if Griffin goes down.
Analyst's have said that the pick would have been better used on a bigger need. I'm not sure I would agree with this point either. Should they have drafted a receiver? Well they already paid Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan a lot of money to join the large group of receivers already on the roster (including last year's third rounder Leonard Hankerson). Would a fourth round guy steal playing time from any of those guys? I highly doubt it. Should they have drafted an offensive lineman to protect RG3? Well, they did. The Redskins drafted two guards, Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis, along with tackle prospect Tom Compton. Shanahan claims those were the three offensive lineman that they coveted. From the initial perception of these guys, they all fit the zone blocking scheme which requires smaller, more athletic lineman. If those were truly the guys they wanted, an offensive lineman would have been a reach at this point.
The only position I think the Redskins could have taken would have been a defensive back. But, the Redskins have signed just about every safety going, from Tanard Jackson to Brandon Meriweather. I'd have to argue again, would a fourth round defensive back have fought his way through the crowded defensive backfield to steal significant play time? I find it hard to believe.
The last point I'll make is the obvious one. Should Griffin become what everyone thinks he can be, the Redskins might be able to develop Cousins quietly and trade him for a high draft pick a year or two down the line. This would go some way to replenish the picks lost in the RG3 trade and be a profitable return on the fourth round investment.
So after all that. Do you believe drafting Cousins in the fourth round was the right move by the Redskins?